Elkhart Independent School District trustees are one step closer to making a decision to call a second bond election after a presentation and discussion during a called meeting Monday night.

After the failure of a $9.4 million bond election in December, the board began considering its next move in meeting an ever-increasing student growth problem, particularly at the elementary school level.

“Even though the bond failed our needs have not changed,” EISD Superintendent Dr. Glenn Hambrick said at a previous meeting, also informing the board that more immediate space needs would have to be addressed through the use of portable classroom buildings.

At Monday’s meeting Hambrick told trustees that the community facility task force met recently to discuss election results and come up with a second bond proposal.

“Most people in the community I talked to were in favor of the bond,” Hambrick added. “Some thought it would pass so they didn’t vote. Others though it was just too much money.”

“I don’t think we can present the same bond — we need to change it and make it more acceptable to voters.”

The proposal created by the task force was very similar to the previous bond proposal in that it still included a $7 million elementary school facility in Phase I. But this time around the district would invest a total of $1.1 million from the district’s fund balance to the project instead of the $500,000 fund balance investment previously proposed.

The task force also made several cuts to the Phase II proposal including renovations to the middle school, air conditioning and roof replacement at the high school, parking improvements and kitchen equipment.

What remained in the Phase II proposal was the addition of four classrooms and a home economics lab at the high school as well as renovations to the campus’ administration offices.

“We felt like (the projects cut) could be paid for from the fund balance as funding is available,” Hambrick said. “But we did not feel the high school renovations could be removed due to expected student population growth.”

According to information presented to the board by Hambrick, the new $7.3 million bond proposal was just over $2 million less than the first proposal, also cutting the tax rate from 33 cents per $100 of property value to 29 cents per $100.

“If we receive Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) funding, that tax rate would eventually drop to 13 cents,” Hambrick told the board.

Perhaps the trickiest part of calling a second bond election is timing.

Due to a state legislative timeline, in order to receive state EDA funding the board must hold the election in conjunction with the May 13 trustee election and must call the bond election by March 12.

“Because the legislature will reset the EDA funding in 2007, we have to pass a bond and set the tax rate for that bond this August in order to qualify for that funding,” Hambrick said. “If we wait for a November or later election, we will have to wait until 2009 to receive the EDA funding.”

The five trustees in attendance at the meeting were satisfied with the new bond proposal, but agreed that all board members needed to be in attendance to make a final decision about calling an election.

That decision most likely will be made at the board’s next regular meeting Monday in the Elkhart Middle School library.

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